BBC BLOGS - Eleanor Oldroyd

Behan overcomes adversity to make Olympic Finals

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Eleanor Oldroyd Eleanor Oldroyd | 14:45 UK time, Friday, 13 January 2012

It's not hard to understand Kieran Behan's ecstatic disbelief at making the 2012 Olympics, becoming only the second Irish gymnast in history to qualify.

"I kept myself awake yesterday because I didn't want to wake up and it not be true," he says. "It's so, so surreal."

There'll be plenty of stories of triumph over adversity at London 2012, but I'm prepared to bet that there won't be many more inspiring.

When Behan was just 10, a non-cancerous tumour was discovered in his left leg. The operation to remove it went wrong and he was left in a wheelchair with severe nerve damage. His parents were told he might never walk again, let alone do gymnastics.

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The ultimate sacrifice?

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Eleanor Oldroyd Eleanor Oldroyd | 14:42 UK time, Thursday, 10 November 2011

"He left us doing what he loved to do".

The words of Clive Wheldon, father of IndyCar driver Dan, who died last month at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Dan Wheldon was just 33 years old.

But they could equally have been spoken about Marco Simoncelli, who died a week later at the Sepang MotoGP. Or Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, killed over one terrible weekend in San Marino in 1994.

Or Nodar Kumaritashvili, who lost his life in a training run for the luge competition at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

To reach the top at your sport demands incredible dedication and sacrifice - but should that sacrifice involve your own life?

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A Once in a Lifetime Kid

Eleanor Oldroyd Eleanor Oldroyd | 12:45 UK time, Thursday, 8 September 2011

A Once in a Lifetime Kid - The Pat Tillman Story. Listen to BBC Radio 5 live from 2030 BST on Thursday.

In these days when money often seems to be the main motivating force in professional sport and loyalty is in short supply, it's rare to come across a story like that of Pat Tillman. But then Pat Tillman was no ordinary sports star.

This is a man who turned his back on a multi-million dollar contract in one of the richest sports in the world to serve his country - and paid the ultimate price.

I travelled to Tillman's home city, San Jose in Southern California, to meet members of his family, friends and close colleagues, and came away with one regret - that I never had the chance to meet the man himself.

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